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James Webb reveals never-before-seen details at the center of the Milky Way

Published Nov 20th, 2023 7:59PM EST
ancient milky way core
Image: udoikel09 / Adobe

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The Milky Way is a vast galaxy, and while it may be our home, scientists are still discovering new things about it. The latest photos captured by James Webb have revealed new details that scientists have never seen before at the center of the Milky Way, giving us an even deeper glimpse into the galaxy we call home.

This newest photo showcases a specific portion of space near the center of our galaxy. The region is known as Sagittarius C, and it’s located roughly 300 light-years away from the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*. It’s a particularly dense area of space, the Webb team explains, and this photo shows it in unprecedented detail.

“The galactic center is the most extreme environment in our Milky Way galaxy,” Professor Jonathan Tan explained in the post detailing the image. Tan says that current theories of star formation can be put to “their most rigorous test” in areas like Sagittarius C.

Webb image of center of the milky wayImage source: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Samuel Crowe (UVA)

Webb’s image of the center of the Milky Way is extraordinary, too, even from a non-scientific standpoint. The image showcases brilliant colors as the star-forming region rests in space. The area that Webb photographed is so densely packed with stars that the Webb team estimates there are at least 500,000 stars within this single image.

Webb’s observations of the center of the Milky Way will go a long way to helping us understand whether our theories on star formation are correct or if they need to be varied in any way. This is one of the biggest strengths that the space telescope offers because it’s able to help us discern whether the models we’ve built our understanding of the universe on can actually hold up.

The galactic center is located roughly 25,000 light years from Earth, and is close enough that Webb can study the individual stars in great detail, giving us even more data to work with. It will be intriguing to see what other information scientists can glean from this image and Webb’s subsequent observations.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.